Ah yes, my kind of book and oddly I completely missed it when it came out in 2006. Marilynn Karp has hit on a rich vein of collecting with her book: the stuff we normally just throw away or at least junk when we get tired of it. A couple of really off-the-wall collectable items caught my eye: other folks shopping lists (page 151) and soap shards in a frame (pages 66/67).
Of course, much of the book features plenty of established collectables, like postcards, fruit crate labels, playing cards, political campaign buttons, matchbox labels and the old favourite: stamps. I thought the strength of the book was in picturing throwaway everyday printed ephemera and cheap production items like wire shirt-hangers, skate keys or shoe Blakey's that normally no one would bother to collect. Karp sees keepers of such stuff as true collectors.
As a designer for print I'm into any scrap of paper that has type on it so most of the book is quite fascinating for me as it shows so much printed material. Recently I started to collect the menus from chocolate boxes and after a while, like any collector, I came up with the problem of finding out about the subject. Collect something too obscure and you're the only one doing it so there's no chance to trade or connect with others. You'll know when your collection has `arrived' because Schiffer Books will publish one of their dreadful looking titles on it with the predictable cover line: Includes Price Guide.
An interesting point all the lovely illustrations throw up is that individually so many things do look dull and boring but collect several of them and suddenly they start to look visually quite exciting. Page 204 has some sugar packets, which surely no one would look twice at by themselves but see just ten with their different coloured type and graphics and something about them comes alive. Pages 198/199 has several crayon boxes from different companies and they look a treat.
The book's 368 well designed pages are stuffed with a thousand images of throwaway items, all in colour and beautifully printed, as one would expect from Abrams. This is one of those books that you can open at any page and be grabbed by what you see. I thought it was a delight!
>>>LOOK AT SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
A beautiful and thoroughly engaging personal obsession in its own right, In Flagrante Collecto (caught in the act of collecting) documents a huge range of some of the oddest of collections out there, proving that often the most bizarre and `unloved' items (in this case mainly Americana) prompt us to want to investigate further. Karp's obvious obsession soon becomes apparent, with philosophical musings and plenty of her own memories to accompany the documented collections, with over two hundred being her own!